Monday, September 29, 2014

The Heart of Creativity

            “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.  We can’t know things like love and belonging and creativity and joy without vulnerability.”
                                    - Brene Brown, author of Gifts of Imperfection

A writer is always vulnerable. The very act of writing opens a doorway to vulnerability because the writer is putting something of himself or herself out there for an unknown audience. Whether it’s the characters, or the settings, or the struggles they write into the plotline, writers invest their very selves into both the process of writing and into the end product. Every writer has a signature and style, which stamps his or her narrative as their own.

Writers vary, though, as to which what parts of the writing process they find to be most perilous.  For some, it is the very process of writing itself. Simply putting onto paper their thoughts, no matter what they are, reveals a vulnerability, which they sometimes need to push through in order to continue writing.  For others, it is the finished work. They feel they are opening their characters, and settings, and stories to a voyeurism they’re not sure they’re ready to handle.  Allowing others to read their work nurtures feelings of nakedness as they realize they’ve just provided an opportunity for acceptance or rejection.

No matter which vulnerability writers struggle with, all writers must in the end grapple with and accept that writing is a risky act. A writer who holds back will stunt his or her writing.  Fear of putting onto paper what the muses inspire could mean some stories never get written.  Dread that people might unfairly judge characters, settings or narratives could result in mediocre writing in an attempt to please, as opposed to writing what needs to be written. Unwillingness to expose one’s writing to potential rejection could mean beautiful stories remain hidden away in filing cabinets and boxes under the bed.

It takes courage to write – to be daring and audacious and brave in the face of one’s own vulnerability.  In the end, though, the writer knows that vulnerability is the heart of creativity, inseparable from belonging, joy and wonder to be found in the pages we write.    

Paula Castner is a co-founder of Seven Bridge Writers' Collaborative as well as a freelance writer and workshop facilitator. She receives emails at

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Whole Way of Being

                                                           Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot (1984).

This Saturday, from 10:30 - 12:30 at the Thayer Memorial Library, Please join us for our  2014-2015 inaugural event, A Writers's Roundtable: Living the Writer's Life.

It’s easy, after all, not to be a writer. Most people aren’t writers, and very little harm comes to them. So writes Julian Barnes, in Flaubert’s Parrot, capturing with perfect irony what every working writer knows: the only thing harder than writing, is not writing.

It is difficult to be a writer, difficult, time devouring, and often thankless; a road beset with obstacles, both creative and practical, both internal and external. It is an odd existence, requiring, as Natalie Goldberg tells us, …a whole way of being.

But what is this way of being? And how does this way converge with life’s more common, well-trod paths? What are the demands that creative work make upon the artist? And what practical requirements affect the work of art making? 

This fall, Seven Bridge Writers’ Collaborative will begin a series of lectures and workshops on the theme of, Living The Writer’s Life; a year-long exploration of the creative and practical challenges particular to the literary arts. Inspiration, discipline, productivity, approach: these are the nuts and bolts of the writer’s daily life, and as essential to mastery as the writer’s craft. 

Please join us, beginning on September 20th, with A Writers’ Roundtable, a moderated panel discussion with local writers, Cal Armistead, Karen Elizabeth Sharpe, Hollis Shore, David Spanagel, and Winona Wendth, as we consider the ever shifting ground between inspiration and finished work. 

For more information about the roundtable and the upcoming, 2014-1015 programming, please visit our workshops and lectures page.  We look forward to seeing you.  

Hollis Shore is a co-founder of the Seven Bridge Writer's Collaborative, and graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing For Children and Young Adults program. She was the 2012-13 Boston Public Library Children's Writer in Residence, and a winner of the PEN New England Discovery Award for her novel, The Curve of The World, out for submission shortly. Contact her at